I wonder how many people wonder what others think of them and then make up stories about what those others think. I’ve been in this circular loop since I was a young boy, starting with guessing what my mother was feeling, and then worrying that I had somehow caused her to feel that way. Guesses about other people’s unexpressed thoughts/feelings have disturbed me all of my life.
Does the this-not-that nature of word-tools contribute to this inclination to guess what others think/feel about me? I see some connections.
Words come after life experience not before. Pulling words out of experience creates frozen snapshots, thereby separating the words from the moving whole of life experience. Word-tool separation encourages a me-not-them outlook, and that sets the stage for wondering what they think of me. If am so separate from others, I’d better worry about what they think/feel about me. If I see myself as separate, I will be afraid.
Through Connectivity, I’ve seen that I’m not as separate as I may appear to be. My reactions to people around me in any one moment are different depending on what those particular people are doing, saying, and expressing in that moment. What I am in any one moment ties directly to other people and what’s around me in my environment. There’s no way to escape this reality. My “I am” is a connected “I am”.
I’ve also seen that even though it is apparent that people are uniquely different, I am like a seed surrounded by a multitude of interconnections. Once I allow attention to flow to Connectivity, I find the essence of any one person as a force of like-me-ness that overshadows the separation our word-tools suggest. I remind myself that this-not-that word-tools can’t carry Connectivity.
Yet my mind attempts to defend separateness as a reality that words accurately represent. And it continues by claiming that words carry Connectivity through the general categories we use, that is, through the genus of a definition. A dog is a type of canine (genus), which belongs to the grouping mammals (wider genus), which is a type of animal (wider genus), which belongs to the category living things (wider genus).
But if I carried these general categories in the forefront of my thinking, why would I walk around with enemy-mode viewpoints arising from seeing myself as separate? Why would I try to snatch the first place in line, or quickly grab the open lane in traffic, before somebody else gets it?
If word-tools carried Connectivity, I would not react as if other people were my enemies. I would not view every “other” as something to defend against, attack, or compete with.
If word-tools carried Connectivity, I would view someone else’s positive experience as I view my own. I would feel gladness about someone else getting first place in line or winning a competition, just as I would feel glad if I were to do the same.
Why? Because “me” would be with “we”. If my main tool of thought and communication carried Connectivity, it would be clear that I don’t exist in a vacuum. But our limited word-tools exist in artificial vacuums, in the form of frozen snapshots, in the separation of the this-vs-that, in the pretense of describing what is real while holding only the miniscule label of what a tag on a string gives a name to.
Despite the function of a genus in a definition, my experience is that word-tools don’t carry the reality of Connectivity, at least not in the way I and most people use them.
But I find I get closer to Connectivity when I exclude words that point toward judgment, evaluation, and comparison. To my surprise, at times when I’m speaking to someone, I experience an almost natural avoidance of words that carry these types of judgmental measurements. Instead of saying “He’s a really bad guy!”, I catch myself and say “He’s hitting that woman, and she appears to be in pain – what can I do to change this situation?”
Connectivity can’t be carried in a mind that holds tight to an outlook of separation and a superiority that embraces judgment, evaluation, and comparison.
When I’m grounded in Connectivity, my stories about what others think of me don’t churn round and round because they aren’t present. If I catch myself wondering what others think of me, I remember that my own judgment stories aren’t to be taken seriously, and neither are theirs. The nature of words simply doesn’t allow them to carry truth in a way that threatens me. For the most part, what others think of me is insignificant, just as what I think of them is insignificant.
Here’s what’s significant. As frequently as possible I touch the noncognitive by really feeling this computer keyboard as I type, or noticing the scent in the air around me. I acknowledge that there are truths that don’t rely on words, and I remember the value of what I don’t know. I recall that the vastness of the cognitively unknown is like the 90 percent of the iceberg – unseen beneath the water – and that only 10 percent is visible through the shortcut, tagging function of our word-tools.
I can hear the counterarguments. My mind tells me that what I’m saying about Connectivity can’t be real because it seems different from the logic of the material world we live and work in. Since I can’t touch, see, hear, or smell Connectivity, it can’t be real.
Why does my mind view computers, business, math, and science as real, but reject the reality that I and other human beings breathe the same air, live on the same earth, and do not exist in separate vacuums?
My mind, using the limited symbols of word-tools, is not equipped to answer.
Then I retrieve the sense of my whole self and remember times in my life when “I knew” but words could not describe that knowing. I remember how fiercely my surface-self ego clings to word-tool knowing, sometimes as if my life depended on it.
With fear as its driver, my surface-self ego holds tight to a superior idealistic perfection that is certain in its knowledge. But its knowledge is no wider than a bunch of snapshot photos strewn on the banks of the moving river of life. The sense of Connectivity comes closer to carrying the living movement that word-tools cannot.
So when I concoct a story that others are thinking or feeling that Steve is dangerous, a loser, a nuisance, or undesirably bad in some way, I realize how unserious it is. Even though it happens so frequently, it’s not meaningful, not in me toward them and not in them toward me.
With Connectivity in mind, I view unexpressed thoughts and feelings as not worthy of attention. Then that negative aura – which my worrisome, negative belief system conjured up – coils like a twisting bit of smoke and dissolves into the vastness of the air around it.
It’s my choice, at least it’s my indirect choice. As long as I don’t feed them with my attention, I can view my stories, and the stories other people imagine, as puffs of smoke that disappear into nothingness. Or I can embrace them as “truths” like the iron shackles that slaves are forced to wear.
Can I open up to possibilities wider than those provided by my limited this-not-that symbols? Can I open my outlook to include my nature as A Whole of The Whole?
I can. And it feels good.